A throng of craft beer lovers braved the sun and heat at Pack Square’s Roger McGuire Green on Saturday, May 28, to celebrate Asheville’s seventh annual Beer City Festival. The event, which sold out several days in advance, hosted more than 30 breweries from Asheville and neighboring cities showcasing a broad gamut of draft beer offerings.
Beer City Festival veterans such as Oscar Wong of Highland Brewing Co., Mike Rangel of Asheville Brewing Co. and Tim Schaller of Wedge Brewing Co. were all on hand to serve beers and discuss the latest developments in Asheville’s ever-changing beer landscape. Oyster House Brewing Co. assistant brewer Philip Shepard dutifully manned the brewery’s mobile beer engine, and Hi-Wire Brewing co-owner Chris Frosaker dispensed lagers with a duck head mask perched among his merch. Notable beers on tap included, but were far from limited to, Pisgah’s new Mountain County Stout — recently released in bottles at the brewery — and Asheville Brewing’s three new small-batch, barrel-aged draft offerings.
Alongside Asheville’s national breweries, Oskar Blues, Sierra Nevada and New Belgium, were more recent additions to the region’s growing roster of beer producers, including Hendersonville’s Sanctuary Brewing Co., Waynesville’s Boojum Brewing Co., Sylva’s Innovation Brewing and Franklin’s Lazy Hiker Brewing Co. Beer City Fest also saw the return of Pisgah Brewing co-founder Jason Caughman with his new Charleston-based brewery, Lo-Fi Brewing.
Though lines were initially lengthy, they moved quickly and guests comported themselves with restraint. Line-cutting was practically nonexistent, and surprisingly few attendees appeared to be intoxicated in spite of five hours worth of drinking in the glaring sun. All pouring stations were respectful of ALE guidelines, carefully observing the fill levels on commemorative tasting glasses, and no volunteers or brewery staff were noticed to have consumed alcohol before or during their stints behind the jockey box.
With robust attendance, enthusiastic participation from most Asheville Brewers Alliance member breweries, and a number of supportive vendors supplying products and information — as well as a much-appreciated shade-covered couch courtesy of Asheville Ale Trail — 2016’s Beer City Festival was a well-organized and efficiently executed event. As the number of new beer festivals in Asheville and surrounding areas continues to increase, many would be well served to take a page from the Asheville Brewers Alliance playbook.
Here’s to one more Beer City Fest in the beerview, and the start of another great AVL Beer Week.